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caption: Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, right, welcomes the first patients to arrive at the new civilian-led mass Covid-19 vaccination site at Lumen Field Event Center on Saturday, March 13, 2021, in Seattle.
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Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, right, welcomes the first patients to arrive at the new civilian-led mass Covid-19 vaccination site at Lumen Field Event Center on Saturday, March 13, 2021, in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Pandemic updates for the Northwest (March 8-13)

This post is archived. Read the latest here.

As of Friday, March 12, the Washington State Department of Health reports:

  • 5,123 Covid-19 related deaths; 328,166 confirmed cases; 20,350 probable cases; and a 1.5% death rate among positive cases.
  • 19,788 people have been hospitalized with Covid-19 in Washington state. According to the most recent data and NPR's hospital capacity monitor: King County has 75% of hospital beds taken, with 4% of the ICU beds occupied by Covid-19 patients; Pierce County has 90% of beds taken, with 9% occupied by Covid-19 patients; and Snohomish County has 56% of beds taken with 3% occupied by Covid-19 patients.
  • Compared to white people and Asian people, the rate of Covid cases is nearly three times higher for Black people, and nearly seven times higher for Latino/x people and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders.
  • So far, 2,267,958 Washingtonians have been vaccinated against Covid-19.

Need a vaccine?

Washington state vaccine locator: Washington State Health Department's map of vaccine providers. Also, use the state's PHASE FINDER to see if you are eligible for a vaccine.

Seattle standby list: When Seattle's mobile vaccination teams have leftover doses, they use this list to get them into an arm, fast.

CovidWa.com: Not an official vaccine finder from the state, but the product of a former Microsoft developer who created a website to more easily find open vaccination appointments.

Get the latest coronavirus news and other local stories delivered straight to your inbox every weekday with KUOW's Today So Far newsletter. Sign up here.

We want to hear your Coronavirus story. KUOW is creating a collection of stories of the people who died of Covid-19 and to celebrate the lives they lived. Learn more.

Saturday, March 13

PHOTOS: Seattle's Lumen Field Events Center begins Covid-19 vaccinations

caption: Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan, left, claps as the first patients arrive to be vaccinated against Covid-19 at the new civilian-led mass vaccination site at Lumen Field Events Center on Saturday, March 13, 2021, in Seattle. 
    Slideshow Icon 16 slides
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11:00 a.m. -- The largest civilian-run vaccination site in the country, according to the Seattle mayor's office, opened on Saturday at Lumen Field Event Center in Seattle.

The site will initially vaccinate around 5,000 people each week. The site could vaccinate 22,000 people per day, at full capacity, if supply is available.

-- Megan Farmer

FRIDAY, MARCH 12

Covid case numbers in South King County remain high

4:00 p.m. — Despite hopeful news on the Covid vaccine front, there are still some alarming trends in terms of Covid case numbers in King County.

Covid cases are still high in South King County cities like Renton, Kent, and Auburn, and in south and west Seattle. That’s because so many residents work outside the home and live in multigenerational housing.

In a press briefing Friday, King County’s public health officer Dr. Jeff Duchin called the continued disparity in the impact of Covid-19 “disturbing.”

“Even now, as our countywide numbers are falling, cases and hospitalizations remain two to three times higher or more in these communities,” he said. “And these trends are reflected in higher rates of Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths among those who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color.”

South King County communities are also vaccinated at much lower rates than the rest of the county. Duchin said that’s why his agency is trying to increase their access to vaccines by working with faith-based groups.

Eilis O’Neill

People eligible for a vaccine will need 'patience' in King County

4 p.m. — Next Wednesday, March 17, hundreds of thousands of King County residents will become eligible for the Covid vaccine. It will take several weeks to get them all signed up for their first doses.

That’s according to King County’s public health officer Dr. Jeff Duchin, who said in a press briefing Friday that people will need patience as they look for available vaccine appointments.

“Although people are becoming eligible very quickly, the eligibility is outpacing the vaccine supply,” he said. “So there will be delays in the time between someone becom[ing] eligible and the time they can access vaccine.”

Many essential workers, including those who work in grocery stores, agriculture, and prisons, can sign up for their first dose starting Wednesday.

Pregnant people also become eligible, as do people with a disability that puts them at high risk of severe disease.

Eilis O’Neill

Washington and Seattle in top five lists of telecommuters over 2020

2 p.m. — If we had to convert to a work-from-home model, Seattle has proven it is more apt for the change than other areas. At least half of Seattle could be.

Over 2020, Seattle was in the top five major cities with the largest shares of telecommuters — 51% of people over the age of 18 worked from home last year.

About 45% of Washington state worked remotely over the past year. The national average was 37%, according to an analysis by CommercialCafe, a commercial real estate blog. Overall, Washington state came in fourth for remote working over 2020.

The 51% of Seattle adults working from home breaks down to 1.7 million workers, and an increase of 1,138% over the previous year (136,505 telecommuters in 2019).

A few other observations from CommercialCafe's analysis:

  • Nationally, there was a 916% increase in telecommuting, compared to 2019. That means 91 million people (1/3 of citizens over the age of 18) worked from home.
  • People with Bachelor's degrees, or higher, were most likely to be working from home during the pandemic (61%).
  • Percentage of people working from home by age group was mostly the same, aside from older groups: 18-24 was 44%; 25-19 was 44%; 40-54 was 43%; and 55 and older was 25%.

To come up with its conclusions, CommercialCafe used "experimental data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s weekly Household Pulse Survey."

— Dyer Oxley

Inslee says schools should offer in-person and remote learning options

1 p.m. — In a public address Friday afternoon, Washington Governor Jay Inslee said that the impact on students' mental health from the pandemic is a "crisis among our young people." He said he will be signing an emergency proclamation soon. It will require school districts to start offering both in-person learning and remote learning.

— Dyer Oxley

Washington's public-private partnership to get vaccines out

Noon — When the Washington State Department of Health first started administering doses of Covid-19 vaccine, it set a goal to give 45,000 doses each day. It just recently achieved that goal.

The DOH is crediting this success to a special public-private partnership which it calls the "Covid-19 Vaccine Action Command and Coordination System Center," aka VACCS. It's led by Dan Laster, whose glasses are better than yours. You can see his glasses here or on the video below.

Washington's vaccine effort is the product of labor unions, healthcare organizations, and private corporations pitching in to help with supply logistics, communications, tech and data, as well as providing staff and volunteers.

In a "thank you" message Friday, the DOH is noting different contributors and how they have helped out during this time.

According to DOH:

  • Kaiser Permanente: Helps plan mass vaccination clinics and with vaccine distribution to health care providers.
  • Starbucks: Shares design expertise about effectively serving people.
  • Microsoft: Helps with technology support.
  • Costco: Supports vaccinations through their pharmacies.
  • SEIU 1199NW (a health care worker union): Coordinates volunteer support where it’s most needed.
  • UFCW 21 (a grocery, retail, and health care worker union): Helps with staffing and training for vaccinators.
  • Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA): Works with providers to ensure vaccination safety.
  • SeaMar: Helps ensure all communities get vaccines distributed fairly.
  • Washington National Guard: Provides logistics support and soldiers to help administer vaccines.

— Dyer Oxley

Daily average of Covid-19 cases

11 a.m. — The rolling daily average of Covid-19 cases is 700 new cases per day. At this time last year, it was about 450 per day.

— Paige Browning

Seattle now has to decide how to use federal relief funds

10 a.m. — Now that President Joe Biden has signed the American Rescue Plan Act, billions of dollars in Covid-19 relief funds will be coming to Washington state.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan says her administration will work with the City Council on how to direct the financial aid.

"Number one, our small businesses still need a tremendous amount of relief and access to get us through this next period of time," Durkan said. "We want to make sure that our vaccination effort continues. We want to focus on how we can help more people experiencing homelessness to bring them inside. And then we want to focus this really on — what is an equitable economic recovery look like?"

Durkan says she intends to make the money last into next year to create an economic recovery buffer.

There is more than $7 billion coming to Washington state from the American Rescue Plan. It's going to education, local governments, hospitality, housing assistance, and more.

Of the $7.1 billion coming to the state, $239 million is allocated to Seattle, $63 million to Tacoma, about $21 million to both the Bellingham and Everett areas, and $84 million to the Spokane region.

The funds can be used for local economic recovery programs.

— John O'Brien, Paige Browning

New variant of concern found in Washington state

8 a.m. — UW Medicine's Virology Lab says that another coronavirus variant has been found in King County.

This one is known as P.1, and was first detected in Brazil.

As with the other two variants already detected in the state, P.1 is believed to be far more contagious.

P.1 is not only concerning in that it is far more contagious, but it can also evade antibodies. Therefore, P.1 could potentially evade antibodies from a previous infection (meaning a person could get re-infected with this variant). That could also mean antibodies from a vaccine may be less effective against it. In short, vaccines and antibodies can still be effective against his variant, but less effective than with previous versions of the virus.

Health officials say wearing masks, handwashing, good indoor ventilation, and physical distancing will all help protect against infection.

Preliminary data from China's Sinovac Biotech vaccine indicates it is effective against P.1.

— Kim Malcolm, Dyer Oxley

THURSDAY, MARCH 11

Food service workers can't get vaccines as restaurant restrictions are eased

5:15 p.m. — People who work in grocery stores, prisons, agriculture, and some other industries will be eligible for the Covid vaccine next Wednesday, March 17. But people who work in restaurants will have to wait.

There have been more Covid outbreaks in restaurants than any other congregate setting in the state. But restaurant workers aren’t prioritized for the vaccine.

Asked why, state epidemiologist Dr. Scott Lindquist said, “Quite frankly, it’s under discussion right now, because [if] you really look at the largest outbreak numbers, they are in restaurants and bars, so that’s a very logical place to put it. But we just don’t have enough vaccine to do everyone.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 275 Covid outbreaks in restaurants statewide.

That’s compared to 162 in grocery stores, 156 in agriculture, and 66 in corrections.

Governor Jay Inslee announced that, on March 22, restaurants and many other businesses can open at 50% capacity.

Eilis O’Neill

State epidemiologist worries Washington could be headed toward a fourth wave of infections

5:15 p.m. — There have been two troubling developments in the pandemic this week in Washington state, according to the state epidemiologist, Dr. Scott Lindquist.

He says Covid case numbers have stopped declining. Instead, cases have plateaued at nearly twice the level they were at in mid-September.

On top of that, yet another more transmissible coronavirus variant was found in the state this week.

“This sets us up for continued waves,” Lindquist said. “So I’m very concerned about the possibility of a fourth wave.”

The P1 variant, or the “Brazil” variant, appears to be less deadly than the original form of the virus, but it also spreads more easily.

And it seems to be better than other variants at evading antibodies from vaccines or previous infection.

Eilis O’Neill

Washington moves into Phase 3 on March 22. Here's what that means.

2:45 p.m. — Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday afternoon that all of Washington sate will move into Phase 3 of reopening on March 22.

KUOW's Austin Jenkins reports that most businesses will be able to operate at 50% capacity (restaurants, gyms, bowling alleys, etc.). That is up from the current 25% limit.

Also, a maximum of 400 people will be allowed to gather indoors or outdoors, however physical distancing and wearing masks will still be required.

Mariners, Sounders, and the Reign (all outdoor sports) will be able to host spectators at 25% capacity. The same goes for other outdoor events like rodeos and high school / youth sports. Indoor youth competitions, such as basketball, cheerleading, and wrestling, will also be allowed.

More details here.

— Dyer Oxley

People flocked to psychics over the past pandemic year

2 p.m. — It seems that among the changes in consumer interests over the pandemic (home cooking, trails, cutting your own hair), people turned to mystical guidance to help cope with the unknown.

Yelp reports that, according to its own online data, consumer interest in psychics and psychic mediums shot up by 74% between March 2020 and March 2021. Interest in mystics went up by 71%; physic astrologists interest was up by 69%; and astrologers were up by 63%.

This supernatural revelation comes as Yelp released its business data chronicling the pandemic year (March 2020-21). It also discovered that, nationally, 487,577 news businesses opened during this time. That is a decrease of 14% year-over-year.

Among those newly-started businesses, and consumer interests:

  • 76,051 restaurants and food businesses were opened (down by 18% year-over-year)
  • Food delivery services were up 128% year-over-year; and food trucks were up 12%
  • Chicken shops went up by 23%; and dessert shops up by 17%
  • 286,879 new professional, local, home and auto businesses (down 1%)
  • New notaries up 52%
  • Landscaping businesses went up by 42%
  • Detailing services went up 37%
  • Interest in drive-in movies was up 329%
  • Interest in home fitness equipment was up 175%

Yelp came to its conclusions by diving into its own data, including how many new businesses were listed on its site, and also how much engagement (interest) was tracked across various industries.

— Dyer Oxley

Advocates want people experiencing homelessness to get vaccine sooner

Noon — Public health officials and advocates for people experiencing homelessness are lobbying the state to vaccinate people in shelters or on the streets.

Other cities across the country have turned to the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine to reach this mobile population, many of whom may also be skeptical of government programs.

Washington's current vaccine timeline estimates that many people in shelters will not be eligible to get the vaccine until late April.

— Katie Campbell

Billions of dollars coming to Washington from pandemic relief package

11 a.m. — As the world marks the first anniversary of the Covid-19 pandemic being declared a worldwide event, lawmakers in Washington DC have approved a $1.9 trillion relief package. Washington state is slated to get billions from it.

Nearly $2 billion is coming to Washington for K-12 schools. And $7.1 billion is coming for state and local governments.

All seven of Washington state's Democratic members voted for the package. All three of Washington's Republican members voted against it.

— Angela King

Covid complaint at Dick's Drive-in

10 a.m. — Five workers at two Dick's Drive-In locations have filed formal complaints with the state saying the local fast food company is not following Covid-19 guidelines.

They allege that the company is not enforcing masking and sanitation rules at the Broadway and Lower Queen Anne locations.

But drive-in officials tell The Seattle Times they are currently investigating the claims and says the restaurants' rating with the King County Health Department is excellent, even when it comes to Covid safety protocols for employees and customers.

— Angela King

Likely no Seattle-Alaska cruise season this year

9 a.m. — It’s looking less and less likely that large cruise ships will sail from Seattle to Alaska this year.

Reporter Eric Stone is following the industry from KUOW's sister station KRBD in Ketchikan. He says the fact that Canada has banned all cruise ship visits is just one of several stumbling blocks facing the industry

Stone reports: "Well, it doesn't seem like there's been any progress in terms of trying to convince Canada to undo the ban. I checked in with Transport Canada and they said they are not even allowing these things called 'technical stops.' Cruise lines have to stop in Canada because they are foreign ships with foreign crew. So they have to make a foreign stop because U.S. maritime law restricts who is allowed to sail on domestic routes."

Alaska's congressional delegation wants the government make a temporary exception to allow foreign-flagged cruise ships to sail domestic itineraries. Washington Senator Maria Cantwell chairs the committee that's controlling that bill but she has not pushed it forward.

— Derek Wang, Erick Stone

Cracking down on schools

7 a.m. — Washington state's Health Department could start cracking down on schools that don't have enough Covid safety measures in place.

That's according to Lacy Fehrenbach, deputy secretary for Washington's Covid response.

"The state says that you have to meet the requirements in order to provide in-person learning, and if staff in a school says that is not happening, there is a process in which they could file a complaint to the state and that would be looked into," Fehrenbach said.

The state says approximately 37% of all students in the state are receiving some form of in-person learning

Things like consistent physical distancing and mask wearing are some of the requirements that districts, which chose to open, must follow. Fehrenbach says state officials want schools to open, and they want educators vaccinated, but do not require either.

— Paige Browning


WEDNESDAY, MARCH 10

New mass vaccination site at Lumen Field could deliver 22,000 vaccines per day

3:40 p.m. — A new mass vaccination site opens this Saturday at Lumen Field in Seattle.

caption: A mass Covid-19 vaccination site set to open on Saturday is shown on Wednesday, March 10, 2021, inside the Lumen Field Events Center in Seattle. The site will be the largest civilian-led vaccination site in the country. 
    Slideshow Icon 12 slides
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The site will have the capacity to administer significantly more shots than any of Washington’s other mass vaccination centers: 22,000 vaccines per day, if the doses are available.

“We are going to vaccinate Washingtonians like crazy at Lumen Field,” Governor Jay Inslee said. “You give us the doses, Mr. President — we’ll give you the vaccinations.”

President Biden has promised that Covid vaccines will be available to every American adult by the end of May.

If the Lumen Field site gets enough doses to operate at full capacity, it could give vaccines to nearly a third of King County residents in just a month.

The city is prioritizing underserved communities at all of its vaccination sites.

That’s why it offered early registration for vaccine appointments at Lumen Field to organizations that serve communities of color in Lake City, the Central District, and the International District.

Maiko Winkler-Chin is a community organizer in the International District.

“We have the highest concentration of seniors, a high poverty rate, and the highest rate of non-English speakers in the city,” Winkler-Chin said. “That’s why it’s so great to have this big thing here happen at Lumen Field. It’s close by. It’s on transit. And it’s physically accessible.”

Appointments at the Lumen Field site aren’t limited to the residents of any particular zip codes; all King County residents who are eligible for a vaccine can request to get one at the site.

Eilis O’Neill

Advice on socializing after getting a vaccine

10 a.m. — The Centers for Disease Control now say that those who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 can do certain things, like visit other vaccinated people, indoors, and mask-free.

But King County Executive Dow Constantine tells KUOW that while the changes provide hope for the path forward, caution is still in order.

"Logically, if you're with other people who've also been vaccinated, there's very little risk of harm," Constantine said. "If you're with people who haven't been vaccinated, even if you have been, there's a chance that you can acquire and then pass on the virus."

King County has the second lowest rate of infection among the most populous one hundred counties in the United States. But Constantine says it's crucial that people continue following safety precautions, such as wearing masks and social distancing.

Constantine notes that, so far, 22% of adults in the county have received a vaccine shot.

— John O'Brien

King County Council approves hazard pay for grocery workers

9 a.m. — Hazard pay is coming to grocery workers across all unincorporated parts of King County. The King County Council approved the emergency measure 8-to-1 Tuesday.

The hazard pay requirement will take effect March 22, once signed by Executive Dow Constantine.

"Many, many grocery store chains across the country are making record profits right now, that is one of the odd, and I guess early, unanticipated results of the Covid crisis, and it seems fair and reasonable that they be compensated for that," Constantine said.

Similar bills are in effect in Seattle and Burien. Both of those are facing lawsuits from grocery industry groups.

One council member, Reagan Dunn, did oppose the King County hazard pay. He says he actually supports the higher pay, but thinks it should be handled by the industry, not lawmakers.

— Paige Browning

Seattle mass vaccination site expected to open Saturday

8 a.m. — Seattle's mass vaccination site is slated to open this Saturday, March 13 at Lumen Field Event Center.

The site will have 2,100 doses on its first day. Seattle currently has a limited supply of vaccines. But the city expects to be able to administer between 4,000-5,000 doses each week. At full capacity, however, the city estimates it could deliver 22,000 doses per day.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan previously spoke with KUOW about the coming mass vaccination site, noting that it was initially set up to be a pandemic hospital. Durkan said she wants Seattle to be "one of the first cities in the country to vaccinate all of its residents who need to be vaccinated.”

— Katie Campbell

TUESDAY, MARCH 9

3:03 p.m. — WA Attorney General warns of scams

The pandemic has created opportunities for scammers to exploit people’s fears and anxieties.

First, there were people selling Covid cures or protection from the virus. Now, there are scams taking advantage of people who are frustrated about not getting a vaccine appointment.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson told a recent AARP online gathering the scams often come in a text or phone call. “Hey, you can get to the front of the line of the vaccine if you pay a hundred bucks," he said. "If it seems too good to be true, it is too good to be true.”

Ferguson warns the scams aren’t just with Covid vaccines. There are lures to unclaimed stimulus payment, or financial assistance. These are schemes to get your personal information.

Ferguson says people shouldn’t have to give their social security number, and they shouldn’t have to pay for the vaccine.

— Ruby de Luna

More than 2 million doses administered in Washington state

1 p.m. — Washington's Department of Health reports it has provided more than two million doses of Covid-19 vaccine across the state.

The news comes shortly after the state also reached its goal of administering 45,000 doses a day.

The vaccines are largely being given out through providers the state has partnered with, along with four state-run mass vaccination sites. There are currently about 1,400 partner providers that are administering 80% of the vaccines in Washington state (they were providing 29% in January).

“I am so grateful for the tireless efforts of our partners on the ground, including local health jurisdictions, community health centers, hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and so many others. The successes we are seeing are a testament to their hard work over the past few months,” said Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Secretary of Health. “As our race to vaccinate Washingtonians as quickly and equitably as possible continues, these accomplishments are further proof that hope is on the horizon.”

— Dyer Oxley

How the pandemic influenced traffic in 2020

Noon — It looks like stay-at-home orders and other pandemic measures had a huge impact on traffic congestion over 2020.

Kirkland-based traffic data company INRIX looked into mobility trends across more than 1,000 cities in 50 countries as part of its annual global scorecard. It found that US drivers cut down on the amount of time spent in traffic by nearly 3/4.

That translates into a savings of about $980 year-over-year. US drivers also spent about 26 hours stuck in traffic last year. That's down from 2019's figure of 99 hours.

For Seattle: There was a 67% reduction in congestion in the Seattle area. Drivers drove 24% less miles. Downtown Seattle travel dropped by 50% while collisions fell by 35%. The cost of congestion per driver was $365.58.

At the same time, INRIX found that average speeds on major roadways around Seattle were 10 mph faster while so many people were off the road.

Portland, Ore saw the largest downturn in downtown traffic (down by 66%).

“Covid-19 has completely transformed when, where and how people move. Government restrictions and the continued spread of the virus led to shifts in travel behavior seemingly overnight,” said Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Morning commutes in cities across the world went without delay as people reduced auto and transit travel to offices, schools, shopping centers and other public spaces.”

See the full report here.

— Angela King

Seattle schools push back in-person start date to March 29 for pre-K, special education

10:15 a.m. — Seattle Public Schools is pushing back its in-person start date for preschool and special education classes to March 29.

The district announced the change in a series of tweets Tuesday morning.

Teachers for these classes were initially expected to return to campus on Thursday after the school board voted to classify them as "essential" last month. The "essential" designation made it possible for the district to order these teachers back into the classroom. The teachers' union called it a "bullying tactic."

About 1,000 students across pre-K and special education were expected to return this week. On Monday, when teachers were expected in class to prepare for the week, the union ordered them to stay at home.

As of Tuesday, the district has rescinded its classification and says it is continuing to negotiate with the union. It says it is "close to a tentative agreement" with the union to bring pre-K and special education students back. It expects teachers to return to campus March 22 to received safety training and to set up classrooms.

The union and the district are also continuing talks on how and when to bring kindergarten and first graders back into the classroom.

— Dyer Oxley

37% of Washington students back in class

9 a.m. — Washington states' superintendent's office says that approximately 37% of K-12 students in the state are receiving some form of in-person learning.

That includes nearly half of all elementary school students, 31% of middle school students. and 22% of high school students

— Angela King

Northshore students set to return to campuses this month through April

8 a.m. — One of the first school districts in the Puget Sound region to stop in-person learning in response to the pandemic will start welcoming students back in two weeks.

Kindergarten through third graders in the Northshore School district are set to start returning March 22.

Fourth and fifth graders will be back for in person learning in April.

— Angela King

Congressmember Strickland on $1.9T relief bill

7 a.m. — The U.S. House plans to pass the Democrats’ $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill this week. Washington Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland says it will be a big boost for south sound residents and local governments.

"I advocated with about 50 of my colleagues in the house to ensure that financial assistance that goes directly to local government, state government and to tribal nations stayed intact," Strickland said.

Strickland says more than $200 million is expected to go to local governments and tribes in the south sound.

"It's everything from helping economic development, to getting renters relief to, you know, just the myriad of things that happen in local government," Strickland said.

The bill also includes $1,400 stimulus checks. President Biden is expected to sign it this week if/when it passes the House.

— David Hyde

MONDAY, MARCH 8

In a few months, there could be more vaccines than takers in Washington state

4 p.m. — Washington state could have more vaccines than people who want vaccines sometime in May or June, according to the Washington State Hospital Association.

Jeannie Eylar, the Chief Nursing Officer at a hospital in Pullman, said in a Monday press briefing that health care providers are preparing now to reach people who are on the fence about getting the Covid vaccine.

“All those efforts going on for people in communities that may be hesitant, we want to do those things, but it’s challenging to get out messaging when we don’t have vaccine,” she said.

When supply will outstrip demand depends not only on how many vaccines arrive in Washington, but also on how many people want to get them.

Eilis O’Neill

Even without herd immunity, Covid could become less deadly

4 p.m. — Herd immunity to the novel coronavirus is no longer the goal.

Dr. Jeff Duchin, King County’s public health officer, has said that in press briefings — and Dr. Shireesha Dhanireddy, an infectious disease expert at the University of Washington, agrees with him.

Instead, Dhanireddy said, the goal now is to reduce the deaths and long-term symptoms caused by Covid-19.

“The rise of these variants may make it — it seems like this virus is going to be around for awhile,” she said. “What we’re hoping for is that it would just not lead to significant morbidity and mortality.”

Dhanireddy said people might even get Covid more than once, but, depending on the strain, it wouldn’t be as serious.

She said some of the new variants are easier to transmit but cause milder illnesses — though others are reportedly more deadly.

Also, the available vaccines protect against severe illness and death, so the disease could become more like the common cold, or a seasonal flu.

Eilis O’Neill

Tweets of note

2:30 p.m. —


King County Council ready to vote on hazard pay proposal

1 p.m. — The King County Council could vote on a hazard pay proposal on Tuesday. The hazard pay would cover grocery store workers in unincorporated parts of the county.

It calls for giving workers an extra $4 an hour like similar measures already passed in Seattle and Burien.

The Northwest Grocery Association and Washington Food Industry Association both say the county should focus on getting grocery workers vaccinated. They argue that the extra pay doesn't make workers safer — but vaccines would.

King County Council Chair Rod Dembowski says the bill focuses on larger, more profitable stores. Small ones, and those in economically depressed areas would be exempt.

— Angela King

QFC and local companies to host vaccine clinic at T-Mobile Bellevue office

Noon — Another partnership between Puget Sound area businesses is bringing vaccines to Bellevue.

QFC and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce is organizing a vaccine clinic at T-Mobile's offices in Bellevue on March 10-11.

People who are currently eligible to get a vaccine can sign up for an appointment or find more information here.

“This week’s clinic is a great example of our business community working together on the urgent task of vaccination," said Rachel Smith, President & CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. "QFC’s donation of professional services at vaccination sites and scheduling support, along with Comcast’s support of on-site services and T-Mobile hosting the clinic, will make it possible for 900 people in King County to get their first dose of the vaccine this week."

Last week, QFC also organized another vaccine clinic at a high school in White Center where it provided 900 doses.

— Dyer Oxley

Everett teachers vaccinated

10 a.m. — A total of 650 teachers and school employees in Everett got vaccinated against Covid-19 over the weekend.

KIRO 7 reports the district along with Safeway and Albertsons set up a vaccination clinic at Evergreen Middle School.

Teachers were given the new Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine, which Safeway received directly through a partnership with the federal government. Some younger students in Everett are already back in the classroom.

Fourth and fifth graders will be heading back next Monday, March 15. At this point, there is no plan for secondary school students to return.

— Angela King

Rift remains between Seattle teachers' union and district

9 a.m. — Monday is the day that hundreds of Seattle teachers and staff are supposed to return to the classroom now that the district has classified them as essential workers.

But on Sunday night, the Seattle Education Association told its members not to comply because the union hasn't reached a reopening agreement with the district. Instead, it's telling members to continue with remote learning and for those who are already in the classroom to stay the course.

The teachers' union has filed three unfair labor practice complaints against the Seattle district. It has called the move to classify some teachers and staff as "essential" a bullying tactic.

Some preschool and special ed students are scheduled to return for in-person learning starting this Thursday, March 11.

Seattle is one of the last large, urban districts nationwide to reopen to many students. So far, it’s only serving about 150 special education students in-person.

— Angela King

What sort of volunteers could help with vaccines?

8 a.m. — It’s going to take months for everyone who wants a Covid vaccine to get one in Washington state. And somebody’s got to give out all those shots. So far it’s been a lot of volunteers. But what happens if the enthusiasm wanes?

That’s a question the Washington State Hospital Association is concerned about.

CEO Cassie Sauer says they’ve been studying state regulations and think a lot of professions might have the right training and skills.

“Some to think about are veterinarians, veterinary technicians who do a lot of injections on creatures that are much more challenging than humans; acupuncturists, tattoo artists, body piercers, athletic trainers," Sauer said.

Currently, that’s just an idea.

Others are approaching the issue differently. Albertsons and Safeway pharmacies are looking to hire pharmacy technicians and assistants across the state.

— Anna Boiko-Weyrauch

Washington hits 45K daily vaccine goal

7 a.m. — The state Department of Health reports that it has achieved its goal of 45,000 vaccine doses a day.

According to DOH: As of March 3, an average of 45,221 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been given and reported each day over the past seven days ... More than 1,865,640 doses of vaccine have been given and reported across the state, which is more than 77% of the 2,414,000 doses that have been delivered to our providers and long-term care programs.

Washington expects its mass vaccination sites to administer their 100,000th dose this week. The mass vaccination sites are responsible for about 10% of the weekly doses given out in the state so far.

The four sites have reportedly administered:

  • 19,922 doses in Spokane
  • 25,174 doses in Ridgefield
  • 22,593 doses in Wenatchee
  • 27,252 doses in Kennewick

— Dyer Oxley


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